Crime, Horror, and Gore – The Comic Book Controversy

Before the rise of the television, comic books were one of the most widespread forms of entertainment. Between 1945 and 1954, distribution and readership soared; in particular, the horror, crime, violence, and sadism genres became widely popular. While the fantastical stories pleased young readers (who could purchase them for ten cents), they worried parents, politicians, and doctors, who felt that exposure to these gory topics was a cause of juvenile delinquency.

One of the most outspoken critics was the psychiatrist Frederic Wertham, who attacked comics in the book Seduction of the Innocent. Based on his work (and public opposition), in the early 1950s, the Senate Subcommittee on Juvenile Delinquency accused the comic book industry of negatively influencing youth. The industry was forced to change; horror, terror, and violent comics were shelved.